I recently heard the following cynical quip: How can you tell when a politician is lying? When he opens his mouth. People are increasingly disillusioned with politicians and the whole political system. The dramatically low turnouts at local and general elections only confirm how jaundiced many have become with politics. It's not that people don't care as such; their indifference is their comment on the sleazy image and self-serving spin-doctoring that is reducing politics to a comic side-show. The famous moment when George Bush Sr. declared, "Watch my lips", came back to haunt him, because his actions could not live up to his promise. Why mention this? For one reason: whatever else Christians are to be, they are to be men and women of integrity. Our words are to mean what they say. Truth is to be the currency of our lives.
Paul was conscious of the temptation to engage in self-promoting flattery, but he resisted the temptation with all his might. He told the Corinthians, "we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Plain, unadorned truth was the hallmark of his life and ministry. There were to be no hidden corners, no clandestine agendas, no self-promoting spin-doctoring. God's truth was to be spoken plainly, "before God, with sincerity, like men sent from God" (2 Corinthians 2:17).
The culture of Paul's age and that of our own, have much in common. Both were obsessed with how things appeared. How you looked and how you sounded were matters of the greatest importance. Who you were and what you said, mattered much less. Image was everything. The sad, and tragic thing, was that some Christians (the Corinthians) were being taken in by this shallowness. There were men in Corinth, "masquerading as apostles of Christ." They cut a fine figure, they spoke with self-promoting, and Paul-deprecating, eloquence. They were "deceitful workmen", whose words and lives were a charade, as insubstantial as candyfloss. But they deceived many in Christ's church.
We are all susceptible, almost unbeknown to ourselves, to being taken in by candyfloss Christianity, where image and appearance are more attractive than the proclamation and living of God's unadorned truth. We live in a generation which has preferred image to substance, and now complains that its politicians are all image and no substance. Will we never learn that we reap what we sow!
Whatever else the Church should be noted for, we should be noted for truth, the speaking of it and the living of it. Truth is to be the single currency of the Kingdom of Christ. Truth, God's infallible Word, and a life moulded by that Word, is the great weapon the believer is called to wield in the battle against sin and Satan. Paul told the Corinthians, "as servants of God we commend ourselves... in truthful speech and in the power of God" - because where the truth of God is, there his power will also be.
Are we men and women of truth? Is truth in your "inward parts?" for God "desires truth in the inner parts!" May our good and gracious God deliver his church, you and me, from all "spiritual spin." May we be known as men and women who are full of grace and truth, whose word and promises are "yes, and yes again, in Jesus Christ." Truth spoken plainly and graciously, is God's principal means for commending the gospel and glorifying his Son. Let it be the single currency of all our lives.
- Ian Hamilton